Poppy Trivedi discusses the #FreeTheNipple movement and the upcoming film which surrounds it
Girls, it is time to stand up and bare our nipples loud and proud (without having to censor them out). The Free the Nipple campaign demands equality and empowerment for women all over the world. It speaks out against the oppression and censorship faced by women in society. The foundation of the campaign is the ridiculous fact that in 35 states in the USA it is illegal for a woman to be topless. That’s right, illegal.
Free the Nipple uses the example of Louisiana, where an exposed nipple, even for breastfeeding, can lead to imprisonment and a fine of around $2,500, and yet, a man can walk around topless without a care in the world. It is time to get behind this campaign and offer support, something we can all do on the 12th December when the Free the Nipple film arrives in theatres, on VOD and on iTunes.
Why can a man post a picture of his nipple on social media without it being removed, whereas a woman’s will be swiftly removed or censored?
Born in 2013, the campaign has been growing increasingly popular, in its protest for equality for women. It is a biological fact that both men and women have a nipple, there are no extravagant differences between those of either gender and yet a woman’s has been sexualised and censored in a way that has not happened to that of a man.
Supporters of the campaign are demanding a greater equality when it comes to censorship and in particular to improve legal rights for women to breastfeed in public. Why can a man post a picture of his nipple on social media without it being removed, whereas a woman’s will be swiftly removed or censored?
It is a taboo issue that needs to be addressed. Breastfeeding is natural, a woman’s body is programmed to do it in a way a man’s is not. There is no reason why she must be made to feel that she must hide away in order to do so.
Free the Nipple claim that they are “working to change these inequalities through film, social media, and a grassroots campaign.” Coupled with the release of the Free the Nipple film, their Instagram account has over 58k followers and their twitter over 123k, so if you are not already following grab your phone and hit that button now. Their hashtag #FreeTheNipple has been used by thousands including Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevigne and Rihanna. There are also t-shirts available to buy from their website, although sadly for us UK dwellers the cost of shipping unfortunately ends up being more than the price of the t-shirt itself.
The feature-length film Free the Nipple is directed by the movements founder Lina Esco and follows a group of women as they fight against the unjust laws of censorship. Inspired by true events, brave and revolutionary women take of their tops and proudly display their nipples in New York City to protest the harsh and unfair censorship laws in the United States.
Though it is the premise, the film is not just about women wanting the freedom and the choice to be able to be topless in public – it is about reversing the unfair contradictions prevalent in today’s society and acting against the sexualisation and oppression of women. A woman should be able to feel proud of her body and if she so chooses be able to show it to the world without having to concern herself with what the male gaze may deem her as.
We live in a society where violence is glorified and images of it can be seen everywhere, but a women’s own body must be censored and removed as if to say that a nipple is more offensive. This is not to say that all women must bare their boobs, for of course not all may want to, but it is about choice and freedom. A woman should be able to feel like she can do it, even if she does not choose to.
In the trailer one of the women states “our sexuality has been taken from us and is essentially being sold back”. The female body has become a commodity, it can be bought and sold but never owned by the woman herself. A woman can be nude in porn, in magazines and in art but is unable to bear her nipples of her own accord. Women are stripped of the rights to control their own body.
However, the trailer to the film has not gone down as well as one would have hoped for one reason – the nipples seen in it have been censored out.
That’s right, in a film that protests for women to be able to feel that they can have the same power over their bodies as men, they have been oppressed once again. One and a half minutes into the trailer, the women can be seen topless running down the street and yet their nipples and what they are fighting for, have been pixelated. In doing so, this only acts to heighten the necessity of this film altogether.
In the actual film nothing will be censored and for the duration of it women will have the freedom that should be granted to them on the outside world. The creators also faced their own battles when it came to the making of the film, facing opposition from police and the added pressure that it had to be done it one take – there was no opportunity for a redo.
Costing just under $1 million to make, the film is a cutting edge glimpse into the reality of the unjust laws against female nudity. There’s no fictional staging or actors, it is real people, embarking on a real protest in the most popular city in America. Now it is your turn – watch the film, see the truth and get behind the campaign for equality.
All images taken from the Free the Nipple instagram account @freethenipplelives